Wilmington combines fascinating history, a lively food scene, and easy access to the outdoors—a perfect spot for a weekend getaway.
Where can you explore a preserved WWII-era battleship, window shop through a charming downtown steeped in centuries of history, spend an afternoon fishing (or paddleboarding) and then dig into some mouthwatering oysters? Wilmington, North Carolina.
Tucked between the Cape Fear River and the mighty Atlantic Ocean, Wilmington might not have the name recognition of other East Coast hot spots, but this under-the-radar destination is well worth a visit. The Port City offers easy access to the outdoors, one-of-a-kind restaurants and lots of culture, including the gorgeous Airlie Gardens and world-class art at the Cameron Art Museum.
Considering a visit? Wilmington International Airport, located just outside of town, has direct flights from several cities in the eastern U.S. While you can always book an Airbnb, Wilmington has several excellent boutique hotels within its downtown core: The Front Street Inn offers a picturesque garden for guests, Arrive Wilmington mixes flavorful cocktails at its Gazebo Bar and the beautifully decorated Dreamers by DW provides a modern twist on the classic bed and breakfast.
Make sure you carve out some time to explore the area’s culinary scene. Manna is a Wilmington mainstay thanks to its innovative take on New American cuisine, and in addition to classic pub grub, the nearby Front Street Brewery has the largest whiskey selection in the region. Indochine serves up delicious Vietnamese and Thai food in a colorful dining room (plus a lush backyard), and Casey’s Buffet is a one-stop tour for Southern cooking: pile your plate high with pulled pork, fried chicken, and if you’re feeling adventurous, pig’s feet.
To help you get the most out of your visit, here are a few different ways to explore Wilmington and its surroundings.
Love shellfish? You’ve come to the right place. Bring your appetite and head out on the NC Oyster Trail, a comprehensive self-guided tour of North Carolina’s thriving seafood industry. Sample delicious local shellfish at a variety of seafood restaurants, hop in a kayak to learn about the oyster beds of Bald Head Creek and even tour a working oyster farm at the Cape Fear Oyster Co. (while snacking on some of the freshest oysters you’ll ever eat).